Educate | Inspire |Remember

The remarkable history

of naval aviation


Putting aeroplanes onto ships transformed naval warfare as radically as the gun and the steam engine. Naval vessels could now be protected from the air and targets many miles from the ship could be reached.  The Royal Navy, bastion of comfortable tradition, had suddenly become the pioneer of a revolutionary new approach to warfare, ushering in an era of huge technological innovation and individual courage as the challenge of landing aircraft on ships at sea was confronted.

Operating aircraft in harsh maritime environments also led to an ethos of overcoming problems with practical and often ingenious solutions. The Royal Navy led the way in technological innovation: catapults and arrester wires on ships’ decks, the mirror landing sight, the angled flight deck, the ski-jump and ultimately the Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing (V/STOL) Sea Harrier.

Battle Honours

The Royal Naval Air Service fought with great distinction and valour on all fronts during the First World War and its successor, the Fleet Air Arm has been at the forefront of many courageous actions since. 36 Battle Honours have been awarded to Naval Air Squadrons for outstanding actions against the enemy securing victory often against overwhelming odds.

Explore our Battle Honours


The history of Naval aviation includes four Victoria Crosses for valour in the air. Two were awarded to the Royal Naval Air Service in the First World War and two were posthumously awarded during the Second World War. Numerous other acts of conspicuous bravery and gallantry have been recognised over the past 100 years.

Learn About our Heroes

VE Day 75

As the nation remembers and celebrates VE Day 75, Navy Wings is looking back on the critical contribution made by the Fleet Air Arm during WWII from the epic Battle of Taranto to the forgotten British Pacific Fleet. Find out more by clicking on the button below.

The Nation Remembers

VJ Day 75

Marking the 75th anniversary of VJ Day and the end of the Second World War, Navy Wings remembers the contribution made by the Fleet Air Arm and the naval aviators, air gunners, engineers and flight deck crews who flew from Royal Navy carriers in the final onslaught against Japan.

We Remember Them

Battle of Britain 80

The Battle of Britain and the defeat of the Luftwaffe by the RAF was a key moment in the Second World War. As the Nation commemorates this year’s 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Navy Wings pays tribute to the 56 Naval aviators ‘The Few of the Few’ who played their part in Britain’s fight for freedom.

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Taranto 80

For centuries the fighting effectiveness of the Royal Navy was dominated by the battleship but, on the night of 11-12 November 1940, the historic and daring attack by 20 Swordfish aircraft from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious against the Italian Battle Fleet at Taranto, not only changed the course of WW2 in the Mediterranean but changed the future of naval warfare forever.

Find Out More

Channel Dash

No single action in British Naval history sums up the Navy Wings aim to Inspire and Remember more significantly or relates more directly to the importance of keeping the Swordfish flying today – as a living memorial to all those who have given their lives in the service of naval aviation.

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The Fleet Air Arm’s Battle Honours

Here you will find a list of the Fleet Air Arm’s Battle Honors and links to some of its most famous engagements.

  • Atlantic – 1939-45
  • English Channel – 1939-45
  • North Sea – 1939-45
  • River Plate – 1939
  • Biscay – 1940-45
  • Norway – 1940-45
  • Libya – 1940-42
  • Mediterranean 1940-45
  • Narvik – 1940
  • Dunkirk – 1940
  • Calabria – 1940
  • Spartivento – 1940
  • Taranto 1940
  • Malta Convoys – 1941-42
  • Matapan – 1941
  • Crete – 1941
  • Arctic – 1941-45
  • ‘Bismarck’ 1941
  • East Indies 1940-45
  • Korea 1950-53
  • Malaya – 1942-45
  • Diego Suarez – 1942
  • North Africa – 1942-43
  • Sicily – 1943
  • Salerno – 1943
  • Aegean – 1943-1944
  • Normandy – 1944
  • Sabang – 1944
  • South France – 1944
  • Burma – 1944-45
  • Palembang – 1945
  • Okinawa – 1945
  • Japan – 1945
  • Falkland Islands – 1982
  • Kuwait – 1991
  • Al Faw – 2003

The Battle of the Atlantic

Battle of Taranto

Sinking of the Bismarck

Naval Aviation Heroes

Click on the links below to explore the achievements of some of the most remarkable people in the history of the Fleet Air Arm.

Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown

Richard Bell-Davies VC CB DSO AFC

Flight Sub Lieutenant Reginald Warneford VC

Lieutenant Robert Hampton “Hammy” Gray VC, DSC

Lieutenant Commander Eugene Kingsmill Esmonde VC DSO

VE Day 75

Join us as we remember and celebrate VE Day 75 and the pivotal role that the Fleet Air Arm played in the conflict.

The Fleet Air Arm in WWII

Keeping the Atlantic life-line Open

Success at Taranto!

The Forgotten British Pacific Fleet

War is Over!

VJ Day 75

As their achievements pass beyond living experience, it is a privilege to pay tribute to some of our distinguished Pacific veterans.


The Telegraphist Air Gunners

Hellcats in Sumatra

The Forgotten British Pacific Fleet

Lieutenant Robert Hampton “Hammy” Gray VC, DSC

Battle of Britain 80

We remember the vital and often overlooked role that Fleet Air Arm pilots played in the Battle of Britain.

The Few of the Few

The Hardest Day

Taranto 80

On 11 November 1940, the courage, audacity and indomitable spirit of a small band of naval aviators changed the course of history at a single stroke

Taranto – The Impact and Long View of History

The Final Run In!

Appreciating the Situation

80th Anniversary of the Naval Air Attack on Taranto

Channel Dash

No single action in British Naval history sums up the Navy Wings aim to Inspire and Remember more significantly than the Channel Dash.

Channel Dash – Unsurpassed Gallantry

Tribute to Channel Dash Hero